As I continue to watch and listen to people discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling, it appears that there are at least two fundamentally different worldviews at work. One group believes the LGTBQ community is a healthy expression of human sexuality and another group does not. Not surprisingly, those two different starting places lead to different conclusions. As I continue to talk with people and try to understand how they get to their own conclusions I have the feeling we are talking past one another – using the same words but in different ways. So today’s post is mostly for me. I’m trying to articulate what I hear each side saying. I want to represent each side accurately, but I know I can’t. Because I’m not in the group that believes LGBTQ expression is what God intended I cannot really portray their thoughts as accurately or with the level of passion they obviously have. So, I appeal to any readers out there who do share that opinion to correct or expand on anything I say here.
What I think I hear you saying…
What I think I hear the LGTBQ community saying (along with those straight people who share their worldview) is that they are not broken and don’t need fixing. They believe their lifestyle/orientation/expression, willingly chosen or genetically predeterminded, is healthy, valid and viable. And, as human beings, they expect to be treated as such. As citizens of the United States they expect to receive the rights, benefits and privileges afforded by the Constitution. (I don’t disagree with these last two statements by the way.)
What I think I hear the LGBTQ Christian community saying is that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross secured for all people the eternal love of God. I think I hear the LGBTQ Christian community defining love as complete and total acceptance – as in “God already loves me just the way I am. I don’t need to change in order to get God to love me, because God already accepts me completely.” Additionally, the LGBTQ community does not see LGBTQ reltionships as sexual immorality because these relationships are committed, consentual and long term. They understand the sexual purity laws on the Bible (especially the Old Testament) to be particular to that culture and mindset, a product of that era’s understanding of the way the world worked. And since, for instance, these same people thought the sun revolved around the earth, there is a reasonable justification for believing that the Biblical writers may have gotten this issue wrong as well. What God was really against, what sexual immorality is really about, is the abusive power dynamics between men and women propagated by a patriarchal system.
It seems to me that the LGBTQ Christian community emphasizes Jesus’s aceptance of the outsider, his desire to break down every dividing wall, his grace secured by his sacrifice and his commandments to love. As I understand it, for the LGBTQ Christian community, being a Christian is primarily about loving people. And, as stated above, that means accepting and celebrating people as they are without feeling the need to change them.
The other word I hear the LGBTQ Christian community use a lot is grace. I have not yet been able to solidify what I think they are saying when they use that word – this is where I could really use some help from those of you in this camp. When I get a better definition I will replace this paragraph with your words.
Here is what I think you are saying:
- “You need to have grace for that person” sounds to me like “If you don’t agree with them, keep it to yourself because there is always the chance you could be wrong. Give them the benefit of the doubt.”
- “God is a God of Grace” sounds to me like “God primarily cares about how I treat other people. My personal, private lifestyle is largely inconsequential long as I am pursuing justice in society and extending unconditional acceptance (love) to others.”
Again, this is how these things sound to me when I hear them, this is what I think you are saying – I can obviously be mistaken. I hope that was a fair articulation of this particular worldview.
Where I am coming from
I’m going to intentionally limit this section to my own understanding and beliefs, I’m not going to try and speak for a group. Also, for the sake of brevity and not coming off like a total Bible thumping prick, I’m not going to include specific Bible verses in this post. If you would like to know the verses that have led me to a particular conclusion, please ask.
My understanding of the world goes something like this: I believe we live in a fallen and broken world. I believe that when Adam and Eve chose to align with the serpent and rebel against God, sin entered the human race and corrupted us, even to the level of our DNA. The world we see with our eyes is not the world God intended to make, but we were not abandoned as a hopeless cause – rather, when God saw that humanity was corrupted, that every inclination of our heart was only evil, even from birth, he chose to set in motion a plan of redemption and salvation, a plan that would recreate the human race, a plan that would bring us out of darkness and death and into eternal light and life.
In order to fully accomplish the salvation of the human race, God had to fully condemn and destroy Sin – that quality in the human heart that inclines us to actively rebel against God and pursue our own desires in direct opposition to God’s commands. In essence, Sin is the desire to rule over our own kingdom, to do what is right in our own eyes, and to not submit to God. In order to show us how far we had fallen, what life was supposed to be like and how we should navigate life in this Sin-full world, God gave the Law. The Law’s first intent was to get us to realize how far we had strayed from God’s original intentions, how far we had fallen short, and how much we were in need of a savior. The Law’s second, and more profound, purpose was to reveal to us the character of the God we serve and what life in his Kingdom is like. But the Law’s second purpose was hidden from our sight until the Savior came and opened our eyes to the Truth by accurately representing God’s character.
God had to condemn and destroy Sin or else humanity would self-destruct and life on earth would be a perpetual hell of selfishness, violence and slavery. So, while God desired to destroy Sin, he wanted to save those enslaved to it. The only way this could be accomplished was if a perfect, undefiled, Sin-less person voluntarily offered themselves as a sacrificial substitute – for only someone in complete submission to God and blameless before the Law could present themselves to God as a second Adam, a new father for the human race. Because no human being was found who could fulfill the Law’s righteous decrees, God sent Himself – Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity – to earth to become a human being. Not only did Jesus show us what God was like, he showed us what WE were supposed to be like, and when he offered himself as the Lamb of God to take away the Sin of the world, when he offered hmself as the second Adam, he bore the sins of the first Adam, and all his descendents, to the grave. In Jesus, God was able to fully condemn Sin and punish it the way it deserved. The wrath Jesus bore, the atonement he made on our behalf, allowed us to be reconciled to God – even more, it allowed us to be reborn as children of God, re-created in his image.
So when I think of love, I think of a God who suffered in our place so that he could remove our rebellious tendencies and transform us into his character and likeness. For me, love is transforrmative. We are not changed so THAT God can love us, we are changed BECAUSE he loves us. God certainly accepted us where we were on our journey, but he didn’t want us to stay there. And knowing that even after our rebirth we would still find it difficult to live the life he calls us to, God gave us the gift of grace, the Holy Spirit, the divine empowerment to do what we could not do before – to live in harmony and peace with God and one another in obedience to his commands.
I believe that LGBTQ is one way Sin manifests in a fallen creation and the manifestation only concerns me because I believe it reveals that Sin is still present in someone’s life.
And the truth is, Sin is still very much present in my life. I am not, in any way, trying to imply that I stand apart from or above the LGBTQ community – I stand with them as a Sinner in need of a Savior. Indeed, I am painfully aware of my own shortcomings and insufficiencies and I commiserate with Paul in Romans 7 when he says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I don’t do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”
For me it all comes down to heart posture. Regardless of how Sin manifests in your life, do you “agree that [God’s] law is good” and are you fighting again Sin? Are you living the tortured existance Paul describes here, wanting to do what is good and right and pleasing in God’s eyes and yet failing to do so? Does the presence of continued Sin in your life disturb you and grieve you, so much so that you would call yourself wretched as Paul does? Or, are you indifferent? Do you say that God’s law is not good and not worth following? Do you say “God loves me regardless of what I do” and in doing so dismiss the sacrifice of Jesus and how much it cost God to love you in that way?
I hate the fact that I Sin. I hate that there is this creature living inside of me that takes over and speaks words of hate and anger and does things I’m ashamed of. And I’m distressed that it seems to happen all the more as I desire to draw close to God. I know that I am loved and accepted, I know that I can come with confidence before the Throne – I also know that my sins grieve the One I love and that I am on a constant journey of refinement where everything that is not of God and not of me is slowly being stripped away.
In closing I will reiterate that these are my beliefs and my understanding of things. I will also acknowledge that many people I love, trust and respect look at the same Bible as I do and see things completely differently. I admit that I can’t understand how they arrive at their conclusions when my own views seem so compelling and comprehensive, but I am also aware that loving relationships are built on our choice to respect and honor one another and not on our agreement on certain issues.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to hearing from you.